“Food engages people, as we know”: health care and service providers’ experiences of using food as an incentive in HIV care and support in British Columbia, Canada


Food insecurity is widely documented among people living with HIV (PLWH) worldwide, and it presents significant challenges across the spectrum of HIV care and support. In North America, the prevalence of food insecurity among PLWH exceeds 50%. In the province of British Columbia (BC), it exceeds 65%. It comes as no surprise that food has become an essential tool in supporting and engaging with PLWH. Over the past decade, however, a shift has taken place, and food has become an incentive to boost uptake and outcomes of prevention, testing, treatment, and support. To explore this practice, we drew on a qualitative case study of incentives in the care and support of PLWH. This paper presents the findings of a targeted analysis of interviews (N = 25) that discuss food incentives and explores two main themes that shed light on this practice: (1) Using food to engage versus to incentivize and (2) Food is more beneficial and more ethical. Providers perceived food more positively than other incentives, despite the goal remaining somewhat the same. Incentives, such as cash or gift cards, were considered ethically problematic and less helpful (and potentially harmful), whereas food addressed a basic need and felt more ethical.

Auteur(s) : Gagnon, M., & al.